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Toys and Environment Enrichment

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Author Topic: Toys and Environment Enrichment  (Read 9031 times)

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lovebirds

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Toys and Environment Enrichment
« on: August 21, 2009, 12:40:35 PM »

As we know African Greys are very prone to behavioral problems, such as plucking for example. This ailment can be caused by numerous health issues, but often it goes in conjunction with boredom. A bored parrot is a miserable parrot. A miserable parrot will scream, bite, or pluck his own feathers. A miserable parrot is not a healthy parrot. Physical health is directly connected to the mental health, and if mentally the bird is unhappy it is much more susceptible to disease.
In the wild, parrots spend hours foraging for food, they fly long distances to find a food or water source. The rest of the time they spend preening, sleeping and interacting with the flock. In captivity, we provide all the food in dishes and it takes a parrot maximum an hour a day to feed, so what is he supposed to do during the rest of the day? In some studied, plucking amazon parrots were divided into two groups. One group was given plenty of foraging opportunities and had to look for the food, another group was given food in bowls, as normally it is done. The group which had to forage for food grew feathers faster and resolved to plucking significantly less than the group who was served food in bowls.
So, what I am leading to  - it is very important to enrich the environment of our birds. Toys is one way of enrichment, but not all toys are created equal and the bird should an access to a variety of toys - paper, cardboard, wooden, plastic/acrylic, foraging, etc.
If your bird doesn't play with the toys, then you need to search for other types of toys which will attract its attention.
Instead of having only two bowls for food, get three or four smaller ones and distribute all sorts of different foods between them, cover the top with some paper, and let the bird explore what is hidden in each dish.

Just recently, I gave Digby a birdie bagel - those cardboard things - well he just dropped it on the floor and was done with it. Then I saw that Squidy puts the bagels between the cage bars, so I did that, he did show a little more interest, but not as much as I wanted. Again, thanks to Squidy and her creativeness, I saw that these bagels can be put together in a chain sort of way. So I made a chain of smaller bagels, and as I know Digby likes pulling and shredding on strips of paper and raffia, I tied some of those to the bagels - and success - he was busy pulling on the raffia and paper and destroying the bagels all morning and as a result - no plucked out feathers were found  :biggrin:
here is the result of Digby's morning work


If you haven't seen these already, these are two of the best free booklets written about enrichment and toy making you can find on the internet. You can download them from this page (at the bottom) http://www.parrotenrichment.com/home.html

Bare in mind, that not all ideas described in the booklet will be suitable for your parrot, you have to know the habits of your bird, whether he chews things up and spits the bits out, or tend to swallow softer materials like paper. Some toys are best given only under the supervision, for example when the bird is out and playing on the playground, that includes toys which have many loose ropes and strings. Learn your parrot's habit and try to enrich his environment as much as possible. In the end of the day, it is very easy to do and once you get the grip of it it will only take a few minutes.
Inspired by the booklet, a couple of days ago, I took a clean carton from Beak Appetit food, made two holes on one side and tied it to the cage of the bars with a leather string, filled the bucket with wooden pieces, some bits leftover from the toys Digby shredded previously and I just saved the bits, some shredders palm ribbon pieces, nutri-berries, a few nuts, etc. Digby enjoyed chucking all the stuff out of the carton and then nibbling on the carton itself!
My cockatiel and budgie don't really like toys much, but they do like chewing all sorts of branches. So I took an untreated willow basket (which cost me only 99p), filled it with similar pieces as Digby's "bucket", threw in some pellets and a bit of seed in there, then tied a few wooden beads to the rim of the basket, and put a small wooden twig through it too. Well, it has been a success so far - they played in it all day long yesterday and all morning today - eating the food, picking the bits out, and nibbling on the basket itself.
Here is her diving in it :biggrin:


Be creative, devote some time to creating all sorts of interesting toys and foraging opportunities for your bird. They live almost as long as us, humans, and we are never satisfied with the same setting or toys for long, are we? So don't assume that that one wooden toy you bought will serve your bird for years and keep it happy. It won't. They are too intelligent to be satisfied with just one type of toy.
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watts1

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Re: Toys and Environment Enrichment
« Reply #1 on: August 21, 2009, 01:33:07 PM »

cardboard boxes are great too! I shred different coloured paper and hide some treats inside. Bertie loves it!!!!




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lovebirds

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Re: Toys and Environment Enrichment
« Reply #2 on: August 21, 2009, 01:37:54 PM »

Great idea, Soo, where do you get that colourful paper from?
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watts1

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Re: Toys and Environment Enrichment
« Reply #3 on: August 21, 2009, 01:44:07 PM »

Awww Thanks Guys!!! :rose: I brought the coloured paper from Wilkinson's and a stationery store. It's a little expensive considering I shred it, but my babies are worth every penny!!! :yahoo: :biggrin: I also add it to the Mardi gras bucket too.
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alys

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Re: Toys and Environment Enrichment
« Reply #4 on: August 21, 2009, 05:27:14 PM »

Wow, what a great site, now the questions,is it safe to give parrots small things eg beads ,will they swallow bits of paper?Is there any common items which are good or any which are a no no? I have always bought toys ,especially for parrots, but not always very exciting. I am looking at foot toys etc on your site Irina any suggestions? Rosie likes a forage wheel i have and she likes tugging. She cant have a bell as the 2 times she had one ,she had a little pull at her feathers and stopped as soon as soon as bell gone.She is not destructive.
Thanks Alys
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lovebirds

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Re: Toys and Environment Enrichment
« Reply #5 on: August 21, 2009, 07:00:02 PM »

I did note, Alys, that you need to know the habbits of your bird. Not many parrots eat the paper, most just shred it to small bits, if they do swallow it, it probably means they are lacking some nutrients in their food and looking for them in other items. Also small beads which they can swallow are not a good idea, just choose a size suitable for your parrot and that will be fine.

As for the foot toys, if Rosie has never played with any (or even if she did) you can start from such simple things as woven paper sticks (these are barely ever in stock though!), party sticks, munch balls which you can stuff with some paper stricks or even nuts and seeds. Such toys as mardi gras toy bucket are both foraging toys and full of foot toys, like some wooden bits wrapped up in paper, etc. You can make a simple foot toy yourself by wrapping up a piece of fruit, some seeds, nuts, wooden bits, in a piece of kitchen towel or plane paper, and watch her the first time if she eats the paper or just shreds it and drops it.
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watts1

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Re: Toys and Environment Enrichment
« Reply #6 on: August 21, 2009, 07:17:15 PM »

I make paper foot toys out of the coloured paper I get. I remember making them at school  :biggrin:. I cut 2 cm strips of different colours then fold them over each other. It looks like a square, diamondy type spring!  :rofl: :rofl: :biggrin:

I could make one and take a pic if you like  :biggrin:
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watts1

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Re: Toys and Environment Enrichment
« Reply #7 on: August 21, 2009, 08:36:41 PM »

................... and here's one I made only moments ago lol :biggrin: :biggrin: :rofl:







The best thing about these, is that you can make them with loads of different colours, and different sizes. Cheap and cheerful  :biggrin: :biggrin: :bounce:
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lovebirds

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Re: Toys and Environment Enrichment
« Reply #8 on: August 21, 2009, 08:45:32 PM »

can you please explain how you actually wrap them, as I don't really understand  :biggrin: :crazy:
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watts1

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Re: Toys and Environment Enrichment
« Reply #9 on: August 21, 2009, 09:16:23 PM »

I'll try my best  :biggrin: 2 pieces of coloured A4 paper. Place one on top of the other, cut a cm strip from the edge so you have 2 different coloured strips. Place 1 strip vertical and the another horizontal and overlap them to make an upside down L shape. Then just overlap the different colours over each other.

I've done some pics as I'm useless at explaining things :biggrin:











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lovebirds

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Re: Toys and Environment Enrichment
« Reply #10 on: August 21, 2009, 09:18:39 PM »

Oh I see! That looks easy, thanks alot! Will definitely try that, Digby loves woven paper sticks, palm leaf and all other things like that, so I am sure he will love this things as well! Thank you!  :flowers:
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claire67

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Re: Toys and Environment Enrichment
« Reply #11 on: September 20, 2009, 08:01:03 AM »

I always have a box of tissues on the back of the sofa for when the poos that come my way.  The other day I found ludo inside the box ripping up the few remaining tissues, so ive put in a load of paper strips (replacement bag for treasure chest) think they are a few pound to buy, I put some wicker balls in it and some little wooden blocks and some pine nuts, he loved it.   Im having porblems trying to get the bigger birds to have a go.  Max will sit and chew things up but doesnt seem interested in finding the treats in there and the ammies just kick it off as if to say, feed me now woman, I aint working for it!!!!   I did make some good toys with yogurt pots and milk bottle tops, think it lasted max about 5 minutes, so ive now come to the conclusion that I need something stronger than string.........
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lovebirds

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Re: Toys and Environment Enrichment
« Reply #12 on: September 21, 2009, 11:43:38 AM »

You do need to place the treats in the toys in front of them to start with, so that they know they are inside. Also, if you place nuts or sunflower seeds in the toys for example, take them out of their food in the bowls.
Keep trying, as once they start enjoying it, they will love it.
Leather strings are good and quite strong too, try those :thumbsup:

On a different note, here are some good ideas what toys be done with the birdie bagels at home
http://www.tntbirdtoys.com/large.htm
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lovebirds

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Re: Toys and Environment Enrichment
« Reply #13 on: September 22, 2009, 07:12:44 PM »

Bowls with foot-toys or foraging bowls, especially for Alys
Two in the cage and two on the playstand
This is a bathroom accessories holder from Tesco for £1, made of nice thick plastic and those holes are very handy for threading a rope through and tying it to the cage.




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Dusty1709

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Re: Toys and Environment Enrichment
« Reply #14 on: September 22, 2009, 10:00:04 PM »

 :biggrin:

When a toilet roll is finished i cut the cardboard in half and fill it with a treat wrapped in newspaper then scrunch it up. I showed Dusty the first time and from then on she forages away. I put a few in the cage hiding them of course. Here is a pic of her with one.   :dance:



On a funnier noter :lol:

Gizmo my ammie likes to forage elsewhere as you can see from my pic lol



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lovebirds

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Re: Toys and Environment Enrichment
« Reply #15 on: September 28, 2009, 11:08:21 PM »

lovely photos! Thank you!  :biggrin:

Here is a link to a great parrot magazin called Companion Quarterly. You can download a free issue, devoted to the games parrot plays here  :thumbsup: Highly recommended!  :biggrin:
http://www.members.companionparrot.com/images/magazines/72_update_opt.pdf
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lovebirds

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Re: Toys and Environment Enrichment
« Reply #16 on: October 18, 2009, 11:07:28 PM »

Something which looks like a presentation on parrot environment enrichment - it has some good ideas
Parrot Recreation : Playgrounds, Puzzles, Diversions
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lovebirds

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Re: Toys and Environment Enrichment
« Reply #17 on: October 24, 2009, 11:23:58 AM »

Look at how this birdie is playing with his toys  :biggrin:
Small | Large
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Toria

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home made fun stuff
« Reply #18 on: October 26, 2009, 02:57:06 PM »

this link is kinda cool if you like making your own toys
http://www.cheepparrottoysntips.com/index.html
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andrews misses

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Re: Toys and Environment Enrichment
« Reply #19 on: January 24, 2010, 09:13:38 PM »

Hey can anyone tell me where to get those bagel things from??? I think Charlie may like a nibble on one of those.

Also what woods are safe to use ? Im thinking i may have heard pine and apple tree is ok??????

We have two large carrier bags FULL of toys that we bought our spoilt little gal but after reading this topic and some of the attachments im inspired to do a little DIY, but a bit worried of using something that may harm her.

Earlier coloured paper was mentioned............how about egg boxes? She doesnt eat things just savages them then throws them across the floor for us to clean up!!
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